Dear DC Government: You can not turn a blind eye and allow shady (and sometimes illegal) construction companies, real estate developers, and property management companies to flourish in "Southeast" and not expect negative consequences. When I think of the scams perpatrated on my Ward 8 neighbors, lawlessness that has left them (through no fault of their own) financially devastated I feel like screaming. Between this and "oversaturation" I sometimes feel like my East of the River brethren are the butt of some cruel economic development joke.
What is really going on here?
The same public housing projects that were transformed five years ago into market rate/affordable housing developments (allegedly to foster economic development and diversity) are now reverting - one Section 8 voucher at a time - back to crumbling subsided housing developments. First-time homeowners find themselves trapped - or worse - homeless. In one of the "better" condominiums like where I live our association is financialy solid and the property is well maintained but even we are feeling the negative impact of nearby condominiums and their failing comps. We are having to change our plans just to weather the financial storms at Brandywine Crossing, Wade Road Condominiums and Hartford Square just to name a few. It is a domino effect and if we don't stop the dominoes from falling we are all going to be on the wrong end of an foreclosure notice - and not just the folks in "poorer" communities East of the River. Where do first-time home buyers go when they have sunk their savings, credit, and hope into a home that has lost 75% of its value in 5 years? What do they do when their bank takes their home because that same bank won't give a loan to a qualified buyer because the "comps" are too low? I understand the banks looking out for their investment but didn't they ask us to look out for them not too long ago when they took those taxpayer sponsored bailouts?
I suppose the banks really are too big to fail and that leaves us little homeowners on the corner of Foreclosure Boulevard and Short-Sale Avenue SE.
If there was ever a time for the DC Council to hold emergency hearings it was two years ago. If there was a time to make some emergency funds available for homeowners (and responsible developers) it was sooner than that.
I ask again, "who is listening?"
Perhaps the better question is, "Is anyone going to do anything about it?"
What happens to an already economically depressed community when the middle and working class residents disappear?
ADDENDUM: I just had a thought. If DC could spend a little more money and time into supporting and bringing TRUE economic development projects (like businesses and amneties) to Ward 8 and a little less into bringing more social services to a community already crammed with them more people will want to live here. There are so many great reasons to live in Ward 8 but there could be more and as Lydia said in her article you are going to have to do more to bring working class people who will buy these homes to a community that they have heard so bad about.
If DC is serious about being "one city" they are going to have to start by appointing a true ecomomic czar to Ward 8 -- someone who's first, middle, and last goal is to get this community on track and in line for some of the prosperity that is going on in the more affluent neighborhoods.
At the end of the day K Street NW is going to be okay, it is MLK Avenue SE we should be worried about.
Go HERE to read the full article, "Low Appraisals a big problem for Anacostia" by Lydia DePillis.
Despite low inventory across the District, even the stuff that is for sale around there has been moving very, very slowly. Darrin Davis of Anacostia River Realty tells me that he's tried everything to sell units in the brand-new Savoy Court condominiums: Offered a one-year break on condo fees, $5,000 towards a down payment, even a free Smartcar with the purchase of a condo. Even in projects where demand is strong—the Housing Authority says they've had lots of interest in their market-rate units at Sheridan Station—nobody can get loans to buy them for what they're worth if nothing else in the neighborhood costs much, and you can't sell units for less than they cost to build. "Until something happens with foreclosures and short sales bringing the prices down, I see it happening it even more," Davis says.
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